For years, we have heard about the health benefits of drinking red wine. However, a recent study suggests that even a moderate amount of vino can slightly increase your lifetime risk of developing cancer.
A study published by the peer-reviewed public health journal BMC Public Health in March 2019 suggests that drinking a bottle of wine per week — less than one glass of wine per day — increases the lifetime risk of cancer as much as smoking five to 10 cigarettes per day does.
If your weekly or daily adult beverage is higher, your lifetime risk of developing cancer might be, too. The researchers noted that enjoying three bottles of wine a week carries the same risk as smoking approximately 8 cigarettes for men. For women, drinking that amount is equivalent to smoking around 23 cigarettes.
The findings also show that the risk of cancer is greater for women than it is for men.
According to the research, drinking one bottle of wine (which is equivalent to approximately five glasses) raises a person’s absolute lifetime risk of cancer by 1% in male nonsmokers and 1.3% in nonsmoking females.
Drinking has been linked to certain types of cancer. The National Cancer Institute reports clear patterns between alcohol consumption and an increased risk for five types of cancer.
- Head and neck cancer, which includes cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx (throat), and larynx (voice box)
- Esophageal cancer, specifically esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
- Two types of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
The findings in the BMC Public Health study refer to all alcohol-related cancers, most notably breast cancer in women.
Alcohol and Tobacco Combined
People who regularly smoke and drink have an even greater risk of developing oral, throat and esophageal cancers than people who use either alcohol or tobacco alone do, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The risk for oral and pharyngeal cancers are greater with both factors than expected, as they are higher than the amounts of adding the individual risks associated with alcohol and tobacco together.
In addition, there is growing evidence that smoking may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer, as well.
Reducing Your Risks
Regular alcohol use is not only linked to cancer. In fact, 5% of deaths globally are the result of drinking. These deaths range from accidents and injuries to digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, and more.
If you drink regularly, you might want to consider cutting back. Consider whether you have additional risk factors for cancer and other life-threatening ailments associated with alcohol use.
The best way to keep yourself healthy? Exercise often and find ways to reduce stress. Some simple ways to alleviate are to take a walk, stretch or go for a run. You can also spend some time with a friend or a pet — or better yet, take some time for yourself by sipping some hot tea or taking a long bath.
It’s also important to strive to eat a healthful diet. Make sure to ingest a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds. Also, try to stay away from refined sugar and flour except on rare occasions.
Following this practice can help you maintain a healthy weight and also ease inflammation, reduce oxidative stress and balance gut bacteria.
All of these are things that you can do to help you live a long, strong and happy life.
What do you think of this study? Do the findings make you reconsider your wine consumption?
[h/t: Cooking Light]